Nyssa Musique – Route de Sumatra
From Nyssa Musique – Comme Au Moulin
Self-released, 1985, France

Released in 1985, for many of the musicians from Nyssa Musique, Comme Au Moulin was the first album they ever played on; therefore it can easily be seen as a manifesto for a new generation of French Jazz musicians, freshly graduated from some of the most prestigious schools in the country, like the Conservatoire de Paris, and raised listening to some masters of European spiritual jazz, like François Rabbath, who – and this is not really a surprise – was actually Renaud Garcia-Fons‘ teacher, who plays the double bass in Nyssa Musique.

In our opinion, Comme Au Moulin is at a turning point in the sound of French spiritual jazz, and Route de Sumatra, might be the most accomplished example of this drift, though, paradoxically, it is also the least striking one. While in some other songs, like Rienne, there’s a sense of minimalism given by the use of repetitive marimba patterns, which strongly remind of some works by Midori Takada – and especially her compositions for Mkwaju‘s first album – on Route de Sumatra, the uplifting feeling given by this form of jazz who adopted some elements of minimal music is provided by the subtle balance between the apparent starkness of the composition and the fact that the musicians succeed in filling a huge musical space.

The idea of finding  inspiration in non-western music is very strong on this album, as it is both suggested in the song titles and the compositions themselves, and it’s not just about  taking some elements from Indian traditional music… On Route de Sumatra, the absolutely gorgeous soundscape of percussions reminds of the dense, mystical, jungle-like imaginary landscape that can be feel in some of Terry Riley’s works or some of the best French psychedelic bands from the 1970’s, like Cheval Fou. Let’s not fall for the easy trick of calling it an opiate dream, it would be very reductive, as the music on Comme au Moulin is much more than this… Amazing music performed by amazing musicians.

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